Energy Efficiency

Vienna to introduce hydrogen in electricity generation, district heating

Photo: Wien Energie / Johannes Zinner

Published

July 19, 2023

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Published:

July 19, 2023

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Wien Energie is starting to test blending hydrogen with natural gas for use in its Donaustadt heating and thermal power plant. Project partners emphasized they are exploring the possibility of converting such facilities to green hydrogen.

The pilot project is for adding hydrogen to natural gas for use in steam and gas turbines in the Donaustadt cogeneration plant in Vienna.

Operational testing of an upgraded gas turbine in the Donaustadt plant is beginning this week. The pilot project is being carried out by municipal utility Wien Energie and its partners.

The first part of the endeavor will run until mid-September, with the hydrogen content gradually increasing to 15%. The goal for the second phase is to reach 30%.

If the test is successful, the Donaustadt facility will be certified for the use of hydrogen

If the trial is successful, the facility will be certified for operating with hydrogen. By blending green hydrogen with a 15% share, the plant can reduce its annual carbon dioxide emissions by 33,000 tons, the city administration said.

Of note, the Vienna City Council banned the introduction and use of fossil gas for heating and hot water in new buildings and structures in several districts last year.

The first test for converting turbines to green gas is underway

According to the company, the test and pilot project are the first of their kind in the world on gas and steam turbines. Its project partners are German companies RheinEnergie and Siemens Energy and Austria-based Verbund. The investment is worth EUR 10 million.

The Donaustadt plant, located in the district of the same name, has a thermal capacity of 350 MW and 395 MW for electricity.

The model of its gas turbine is used in over 115 systems across Europe, with a total capacity exceeding 31 GW, highlighting the enormous potential for the conversion of such facilities.

During the testing and blending of hydrogen with gas, data on efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions will be collected and used in the development of hydrogen-powered gas turbine components.

Green hydrogen is made in electrolyzers powered by renewables. It is one of the solutions for storing surplus energy from wind and solar power plants. Conversely, burning natural gas leaves a high carbon footprint.

At the same time, E.ON Romania is starting to blend hydrogen into the gas network for testing in households at two locations. Within its 20HyGrid project and with its distribution subsidiary Delgaz Grid, it picked several dozen users in the Dârlos commune in Transylvania, where the pipes are from polyethylene.

Next, the utility is set to demonstrate in August the usage of hydrogen in a steel pipe network in nearby Gornești. The share will be 20%. Romania’s gas transmission system operator Transgaz is developing a similar project.

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